Friday, September 28, 2012 • 8:49 AM Comments (6)

No Zoning Ordinance for You!

posted by Maureen Turner

For crying out loud, did the City Council really once again delay action on long-delayed revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance?

Why, yes—yes it did.

At a public hearing earlier this week, councilors voted to send the proposed zoning ordinance—six years in the making—back to committee for yet more review. At issue: some councilors’ apparent fears that the changes would take away some of their power and grant it instead to the city’s Planning Board, and opposition from developers worried that the changes wouldn’t be good for their interests.

The proposal has, however, won broad support from neighborhood groups, who argue that it would modernize and simplify the city’s existing zoning ordinance, which hasn’t been changed in 41 years. Ah, but then change never comes easy in City Hall, does it?

At Western Mass Politics and Insight, Matt Szafranski offers a wonderfully detailed account of the contentious meeting. (After the meeting, one savvy, frustrated Springfielder described the experience to me as “theater of the absurd.”) Szafranski notes city planning professionals had to defend themselves against councilors’ suggestions that the new ordinance amounted to a power grab by the Planning Board. “Planning Board member Katie Stebbins … [said] that greater inclusion of the Planning Board, a group of well-trained professionals, would be good for the city,” he wrote. “ ‘This is not a group of dunces,’ she said fighting back arguments against empowering the Board.”

“The current zoning ordinance is forty years old, ancient relative to other New England cities. It appears that the money and influence of developers is holding back change. That long-serving at-large councilors are exposed to it is unsurprising,” Szafranksi wrote.

“However, should ward councilors, too, be deferring to a few, often non-residential influential individuals over residents, it could spell trouble for fundamental reforms the city needs to bring into the modern era.”

Comments (6)
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it is a power grab and other voters given the knowledge would see that we have voted in the councilors and if you do not like some or disagree with their point it is the only voice left to a citizan.

I feel it is a power grab by planning and Phil Dromy..It is pretty clear Katie Stebbins has a superiority complex and is determined to run the show.This tiered issue came up 6 years ago and should have been solved by now. Do not always blame the council for the progressive push by some....other than the ordinence will make a fine law if the council and the civic assc. can come together.

Posted by aaron on 9.28.12 at 18:03

Um, "aaron" you do know that if a problem arose, the City Council could vote to undo the ordinance and that Planning Board Member can be removed for cause by the mayor. Indeed, Springfield appears to be quite odd in that so much power is granted to the City Council for special permitting, which is not changed by this.

And yet all you can really do to defend your opinion is the resort ad hominem attacks on a city resident. No the council is not always to blame, but given that nobody, other than largely non-resident developers could come up with an argument against, and the power grab notion was coming from the council, not developers, councilors seem like a ripe target.

Your comments often seem to the cheering section for the status quo or righteous indignation. You know "aaron," dissent is fine, but if you do wish to engage in such hollow attacks against an individual, it might be worthwhile for you to actually state your name out in the open rather than cower behind the thin veil of internet anonimity. Just for good measure, I am the above-mentioned Matt Szafranski. No double standards here.

Posted by Matt S on 9.29.12 at 14:00

Enjoy yourself. I do not write a blog and would be quite afraid to put myself after watching the way people are judged and treated by the elite. By the way not all are as nasty but the council is my voice. I am a Springfield resident and want my council to be there from me. Progressives like yourself denegrate and use I am Better than you daily and assume that means power taken and solialist rule begins.Defend your ideals and let me have and defend mine. As a member of the media I find you and your bias the problem. 60% of us poor dumb voters agree. The media has transformed and totally ignored the fundalmental basics of reporting the news and someday the worm will turn .

Posted by aaron on 9.29.12 at 18:45

Ha, "socialist" accusation and zero response to any of my comments. Truly, I am beaten.

Posted by Matt S on 9.29.12 at 22:45

Anyone afraid to use their own name has no confidence in their own opinion and are cowards. the signers of the Declaration of Independence were not afraid to put their lives on the line but aaron is.

Posted by jimboone@hotmail.com on 9.30.12 at 3:56

Enjoy your sarcasim.

Posted by aaron on 9.30.12 at 9:33
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